Jeddah - The International Air Transport Association (IATA) today called on governments, air navigation service providers (ANSPs) and aviation groups to urgently address air traffic inefficiencies that are jeopardising the sustainability of Middle Eastern aviation.

“The Middle East is one of the most dynamic aviation markets in the world expanding from 5% of international traffic to 10% in the past seven years. But we are not immune to the global recession,” said Dr. Majdi Sabri, Regional Vice President for IATA in the Middle East North Africa. “Airlines in this region will lose $200 million in 2009 as traffic growth slows dramatically. In this environment every cent counts and both aviation and the environment can no longer afford a wasteful air traffic control system.”

During a speech delivered to delegates attending the Civil Air Navigation Services Organization (CANSO) Middle East ANSP Conference, Sabri pointed to performance issues that are threatening the financial health and future expansion of the industry in the region.

“In the Middle East infrastructure and air traffic control procedures are not keeping up with growth. Military restrictions limit airspace expansion and the fragmentation of airspace and sub-optimal routes are costing millions,” said Sabri. “We need better coordination to find workable solutions and that means involving Governments, airlines, ANSPs and industry groups like the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), CANSO and IATA.”

Sabri called for coherent regional approach to ATM to provide capacity and improve efficiency. “That means looking beyond national borders to the region-wide implementation of enroute airspace and terminal control areas based on Performance Based Navigation (PBN),” said Sabri. “It calls for investment in improved aeronautical information management and communications infrastructure. And it means making better use of aircraft and air traffic management technology to achieve an airspace structure that is based on user-preferred flight-paths.”

Every drop of fuel that airlines save also improves aviation’s environmental performance. Aviation contributes 2% of global CO2 but is aggressively pursuing carbon-neutral growth en-route to a carbon-free future with a four pillar strategy:

  • Invest in new technology
  • Operate planes effectively
  • Build and use efficient infrastructure
  • And implement positive economic measures

“Airlines in this region are doing their part ordering 1000 new, fuel-efficient aircraft worth over US$178 billion in the past three years,” said Sabri. “IATA is also playing a role. Since 2004 globally we have delivered US$12 billion and 59 million tonnes of CO2 savings by shortening routes, enhancing operational procedures and sharing best practices. Since 2006 in this region alone we saved US$460 million, US$40 million by shortening routes, US$46 million with RNAV approaches and US$374 million by helping airlines in the region improve fuel efficiency with our Green Teams. We have made progress, but there is much more work to do.”

Notes for Editors:

  • IATA has some 230 members comprising 93% of scheduled international traffic.
  • Performance-based navigation (PBN) is a state-of-the-art navigation system largely based on satellite navigation (e.g. GPS), whereby aircraft can navigate point-to-point, i.e. the nearest way from one airport to another, instead of having to use navigational aids on the ground which usually involves longer flying distances.
  • User-preferred flight paths are routes of flight most closely matching user expectations i.e. routes that are most efficient, as opposed to flying along fixed air traffic services (ATS) routes which often cover longer distances.
  • IATA Green Teams help airlines identify and evaluate fuel efficiency and emissions reduction initiatives based on the team's expertise and industry best practice.